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    “I have water, Belvita (biscuits). I picked up a Wall Street Journal, if that interests you,” Carol Fauth says as author Deborah Diesen and I climb into Fauth’s gray Ford Expedition XL. It’s a September morning, not yet light out, and we’re on the way from the Seelbach, where Diesen is staying, to St. Agnes School in the Deer Park neighborhood, so Diesen can read and sign her book The Pout-Pout Fish

    Fauth is what’s called a media escort. She’s a retired elementary school librarian who, through her connections in the book world, is now charged with escorting authors when they come to town on book tours. She’s chauffeured close to 90 authors in 14 years. The job isn’t just driving them around and “flapping” books to ready them for autographs. She took spy novelist Alan Furst to find boat shoes for a cruise. Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, along with many others, wanted to see the Twin Spires. Jane Smiley, whose A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the early ’90s, was in at Derby time. Fauth got up with her at 5 a.m. and went to the backside. Cheryl Ladd (best known for being on the TV show Charlie’s Angels, not as a writer) wanted to do something fun, so she and Fauth went bowling on Fourth Street. “We were sitting at a table and she ordered bean soup,” Fauth says. “Well, she got out her Beano and set it in the middle of the table and she said, ‘What? Stars fart too.’” Fauth keeps a photo of herself with Paula Deen on her phone’s screen. She once escorted Victorian novelist Anne Perry. “The next day I was in the bookstore and they said, ‘Did you know you were driving around a murderer (as a teen in 1954)?’ And I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. No!’” Fauth says.

    David Sedaris was her favorite. Before she met him, the publisher sent a copy of Sedaris’ latest book at the time, which was Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. “Oh, F-words every other sentence,” she says. “I threw it down and said, ‘I’m not gonna read this.’ I went to pick him up at the airport and here he comes with white socks and loafers and khaki pants, his sleeves rolled up, and a madras tie. Just as cute as could be, but he was such a goober.” He gave her a wad of cash and asked her to go get him some cigarettes. At his book signing, he put out a basket and asked for cash, just to see if people would give him money. “He had this envelope full of cash. I bet it was $1,000,” Fauth says. He told the crowd he needed breast-milk stories for his next project as he autographed books until 3 a.m., then caught a plane two hours later.

    After Diesen reads to about a hundred kids (kindergarten age through third grade), they shuffle out and she starts signing copies. Fauth suggests Diesen sign a bookmark so that the school can make copies for the kids whose parents didn’t order a book to have signed.

    “That way everybody gets a signature,” Fauth says.

    “Sweet idea, Carol,” says Carmichael’s Kids staffer Michelle Shaver.

    “It’s not her first rodeo,” says Elizabeth Hinkebein, the school’s librarian.

    “Carol,” Shaver says, “I always say, you’re who I want to be when I grow up — you and Raffi.”

    Fauth reads aloud what Diesen wrote on the bookmark: “‘A book a day keeps the pout-pouts away.’ How wonderful!”

    This originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here. 

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    About Mary Chellis Nelson

    Mary Chellis Nelson is the managing editor of Louisville Magazine.

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